This month we hear from a brand-new bookshop, Llibreria Finestres, which opened its doors in April. It’s inspiring to see a new bookshop open in a time of such upheaval, against all the odds, and as we hear from them, provide a new haven for readers and writers alike in Barcelona. If you are planning a visit to Barcelona, this should be on your itinerary – after a long day sightseeing, this seems like the perfect place to stop by, pick up a book and perhaps even a drink at their bar, and relax!
1. It’s really uplifting to see a new bookstore open in the midst of a global pandemic: what was it like to open in the current climate? What was your opening day like? Were people eager to come to your new shop?
It has been very exciting. We started working on the project during lockdown when imagining ourselves in physical places interacting with other people seemed like a fantasy. Seeing how it has materialized, between announcements of new capacity restrictions, schedule adjustments and masks, has been a celebration for us. The first week of opening was real madness, there were queues every day to enter. In addition, we had the great idea to open a week in advance of ‘Sant Jordi’, the biggest and most important book party in Catalonia, so it was a very happy month but also a bit exhausting.
2. Following on from this, do you think that the pandemic has made readers more interested in bookshops and independents? Do you think that attitudes around books have changed in the past year?
We believe that the pandemic has indeed restored the habit and taste for reading. Our hope, now, is that the interest in literature is reflected in the time of interaction in bookstores and with booksellers, and not so much through online platforms.
3. You don’t just sell books, you have author events and book readings among other social events, you run two literary awards and have a bar. What is the most rewarding part of working in a bookshop? What is the most difficult part?
One of the great pillars of Finestres has always been the programming of cultural activities but renewing the static and boring formats to which we are accustomed. We propose book presentations that turn into performances, concerts, talks between authors and even drinks with your favourite authors! Our bar is located on the terrace of the bookstore (an oasis in the middle of the city) and contributes to the main idea of Finestres: to be a bookstore for reading. You are not obliged to leave once you buy a book. On the contrary, you can stay as long as you want, drinking and having a little snack and of course, reading (whether you have bought the book or not).
4. Your logo shows a dog pawing some books, is there an interesting story behind the development of this logo?
This logo is the result of long, funny discussions between the team. The Basset of the bookstore logo is a tribute to Anglophilia and interior reading comfort. His name is Watson, for reasons that need not be specified here. Suffice it to say, he is not a doctor in any field, beyond saliva production, anti-athletic asthenia, and general cuddly posing!
5. It’s very interesting to read through your manifesto. How would you describe your unique identity briefly?
FINESTRES is a bookstore for reading. A bookstore that invites you to read. An open and welcoming space that offers the possibility of spending long moments, in a warm silence, choosing, removing and reading copies from an extensive humanistic collection full of classic, contemporary and universal titles, as well as a careful selection of editorial novelties, in multiple languages.
Located in the heart of Barcelona, FINESTRES does not want to compete with the presentation program that the city already offers and which follows an incessant editorial calendar. Instead, it wants to be the alternative, the parenthesis. A meeting point for the reading community that wants to participate in intimate encounters with writers from around the world and unique voices from the book sector, from publishers to specialists, to debate and generate conversations around books. Everything to put topics or authors on the table that deserve attention, regardless of whether they are novel or trendy.
6. Finally, what has been your favourite book to sell since opening?
To ask for a single favourite book from a bookshop is a bit cruel, as all our booksellers wanted to participate in this!
- “Forn de calç”: It is the first Catalan comic book complilation published in 30 years
- “Tagebücher 1933-1945” by Victor Klemperer, because it’s a wonderful book, out of print in Spanish and we didn’t know if the potential customer for it in German would ever come to us (and they did).
- Mervyn Peake’s ‘Letters From a Lost Uncle”, a delightful journal from one of the greatest fantasy authors of all time.
- “El último barco”, by Domingo Villar because it is an excellent crime novel by a Spanish author who is getting better at every book he writes.
- The four volumes of “À la recherche du temps perdu” in La Pléiade edition, because… Proust de luxe!
- “Collected Poems: 1950-2012” by Adrienne Rich, because every day she is more well known here in Spain, and that’s always good news!